EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

07.01.13

Software Patents and the FTC’s Red Herring

Posted in Patents at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Red herring

Summary: The core problem with the USPTO remains unchallenged because the wrong problem — or a symptom rather — is being described and slowly addressed

The USPTO has been harbouring a culture of patenting, motivated for the most part by large corporations’ desire to have mechanisms of protectionism in place, barring or weighing down emerging competition (sometimes domestic but especially foreign). The illusion of a ‘free market’ should be warped to speak of unregulated markets where large corporations are free to do as they please, always assured that the government that they pay will protect them when the need arises, be it by patent monopolies or even espionage overseas (see Cablegate on Boeing for examples). In this culture where offices like the patent office are run by people who came from large corporations (revolving doors) it is not surprising that even so-called ‘reforms’ are structured to benefit large corporations.

According to this report from the corporate media, the US government (a branch of it) “said it created a pilot program in which its six administrative judges will in some cases determine within 100 days if companies that sue for infringement have adequate U.S. production, research or licensing to use the court.”

“In this culture where offices like the patent office are run by people who came from large corporations (revolving doors) it is not surprising that even so-called ‘reforms’ are structured to benefit large corporations.”This is not the right thing to do [1, 2, 3, 4]. What they need to do is assess the quality and especially the scope of the patents, irrespective of the plaintiff. They are doing a sort of ad hominem disservice by looking at a real issue which is nevertheless not the core issue.

Well, citing the pro-software patents blog that lobbies on scope and defends trolls, Groklaw names David Kappos, former head of the USPTO and an IBM faithful. Pamela Jones writes: “This is why Kappos failed. He misunderstood what the criticism of the patent system is about. It has *nothing* to do with a reluctance to pay. It’s about protecting innovation in a system that has allowed such broad functional claiming, blocking off entire areas of software development, that no one can innovate safely any more. That damages the patent system and the economy and it brings innovation to a halt. The rest is ideology and daydreams.”

The FTC is not going to resolve the overall problem even if it tackles patent trolls. The problem is not correctly identified, just a symptom of this problem. As some wise person noted the other day, there is no good understanding of these issues, so the commission will fail. To quote:

First, it notes that the chairwoman of the FTC is expected to recommend an investigation of patent trolls (or “frivolous patent lawsuits” as specified in the headline). The promised further action has not been confirmed, so we will have to wait and see.

The Times then slid around the “patent troll” name and henceforth called them by the less pejorative “patent-assertion entity” or PAE. Still, adding some weight to the promise of action was the “several executive orders” from President Obama “directing executive agencies to take steps to take steps to ‘protect innovators from frivolous litigation.’”

The article goes on to describe patent trolls as typically having no operations other than collecting royalties on patents and says that they accounted for more than 60 percent of the roughly 4,000 patent lawsuits filed last year, up from 29 percent two years earlier.

But then the article notes one company that calls itself a “patent-licensing company,” raising the question of “what’s in a name”.

In any case, the Times expects the full commission (two Democrats and two Republicans, with one seat empty), to approve a study.

What they fail to see is that a large company like Microsoft is also engaged in patent assertion. Some say Microsoft makes billions of dollars this way, at the expense of those who actually sell products that customers want. It makes Microsoft not all that different from patent trolls. Sometimes Microsoft uses a proxy like Vringo, which Troll Tracker describes as follows today:

But is that really what Vringo is doing? Are they taking someone’s IP and making something useful out of it, because that person/company cannot? Or are they taking patents that were sold to them by, oh, I dunno, Microsoft just for instance, and using them as a bully stick with which to beat other companies who have already manufactured something of good use and likely didn’t even infringe but will settle so they don’t have to litigate? That’s what would be a bad thing, right?

To get an example of classic patent trolls, see this new article from Joe Mullin, who says that “With so many patents out there claiming rights to basic Web-based technologies, at this point there aren’t many businesses in America that are unaffected by so-called “patent trolls.” But one troll, ArrivalStar, found a fresh set of targets that earned it serious scorn: public transit systems.”

Here is another article about it. “For several years now,” it says, “a curious company called ArrivalStar – which has no website, appears to produce nothing, and is oddly registered in Luxembourg – has been systematically suing public transit agencies in the United States. As we wrote last April, the company holds a collection of dubious patents tied to the technology of tracking vehicles in motion. And it has been using them to claim patent infringement by transit agencies that … track vehicles in motion.”

“At the end of the day the largest corporations will benefit and everyone else will suffer even more.”This is starting to get a lot of national coverage.Public transit agencies across US say they’re being squeezed by questionable patent lawsuits, according to the Washington Post. Another article says that “A patent holding company has filed eight lawsuits against U.S. banking institutions in recent weeks, claiming patent infringement on products and services related to security and electronic banking.”

What makes this troll a problem is that it hurts the rich, and therefore politicians will go after it with great passion. To Quote further: “In some cases, the patents mentioned in these suits are alleged to cover basic banking functions and features used in ATM and online-banking transactions. In other cases, even cryptography methods used to conform to security standards, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, have been brought into question, Denaro says.”

A simple ban on software and business method patents would resolve this, but the government goes after those entities not because of their patents but because of their business model. What a red herring this is. At the end of the day the largest corporations will benefit and everyone else will suffer even more.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. EPO Busy Distracting From Miscarriage/Abuse of Justice at the EPO (Both Office and Organisation)

    The European Patent Organisation continues to be a vassal of the Office (Christoph Ernst is defending Battistelli) and justice is not being honoured; it's being discarded in the darkness (in secret meetings)



  2. Bristows LLP/IP Kat Carrying on With Dead UPC Jingoism

    The same old tune from Bristows not only gets played in Bristows' 'alternate reality' blog but also in other blogs where Bristows staff is 'contributing' (to confusion and misconceptions)



  3. Links 16/12/2017: Mesa 17.2.7, Wine 3.0 RC2, Kdenlive 17.12.0, Mir 0.29

    Links for the day



  4. Patrick Corcoran is Innocent, Yet Battistelli Will/May Have the Power to Sack Him Next Month (in DG1)

    The EPO's Administrative Council does not want to even mention Patrick Corcoran, as merely bringing that up might lead to the suggestion that Benoît Battistelli should be fired (yes, they can fire him), but to set the record straight, at the EPO truth-tellers are punished and those whom they expose are shielded by the Administrative Council



  5. Patent Trolls Are Going Bust in the United States (Along With the 'Protection' Racket Conglomerates)

    RPX continues its gradual collapse and patent trolls fail to find leverage now that software patents are kaput and patent opportunists struggle to access Texan courts



  6. IBM's Manny Schecter is Wrong Again and He is Attempting to Justify Patent Trolling

    In yet another dodgy effort to undermine the US Supreme Court and bring back software patents, IBM's "chief patent counsel" (his current job title) expresses views that are bunk or "alternative facts"



  7. EPO Administrative Council Disallows Discussion About Violations of the Law by Benoît Battistelli

    The EPO crisis is not ending for the Administrative Council does not want to tackle any of the obvious problems; Patrick Corcoran is a taboo subject and Ernst is coming across as another protector of Benoît Battistelli, based on today's meeting (the second meeting he chairs)



  8. Links 13/12/2017: GIMP 2.9.8, Fedora 25 End Of Life, AltOS 1.8.3

    Links for the day



  9. Judge Corcoran Got His User ID/Desk Back (as ILO Asked), But Cannot Perform Actual Work

    The latest update regarding Patrick Corcoran, whose 3-year ordeal is far from over in spite of ILO's unambiguous rulings in his favour



  10. The End of Software Patents and PTAB's Role in Enforcing That End

    Software patents are fast becoming a dying breed and the appeal board (PTAB) of the USPTO accelerates this trend, irrespective of patent immunity attempts



  11. No, China Isn't Most Innovative, It's Just Granting a Lot of Low-Quality Patents

    Patent extremists are trying to make China look like a role model or a success story because China grants far too many patents, spurring an explosion in litigation



  12. Battistelli-Campinos Transition Will Be a Smooth One as the Administrative Council Remains the Same and the Boards Still Besieged

    A rather pessimistic (albeit likely realistic) expectation from tomorrow's meeting of the Administrative Council, which continues to show that no lessons were learned and no strategy will be altered to avoid doom (low-quality patents and stocks running out)



  13. Links 12/12/2017: New BlackArch ISO and Stable Kernels

    Links for the day



  14. German Media Helps Cover Up -- Not Cover -- the Latest EPO Scandal

    EPO-Handelsblatt attention diversion tricks may be effective as German media barely shows interest in one of the EPO's biggest scandals to date



  15. PTAB Haters Fail to Guard Bogus Patents, But They Still Try

    Three Affiliated Tribes probably won't enjoy sovereign immunity from PTAB, Dennis Crouch won't manage to slow down PTAB, and patent litigation will stagnate as bad patents perish before they even land in a lawsuit



  16. Team UPC's Tilmann Defends Rogue Vote at 1 AM in the Morning With Just 5% of Politicians (Those With Vested Interests) Attending

    Just when German democracy is being stolen by a legislative coup (in the dead of night when 95% of politicians are absent/asleep) there's someone 'courageous' enough to rear his ugly head and attempt to justify that coup



  17. The Mask Falls: Lobbyist David Kappos Now Composes Pieces for the Patent Trolls' Lobby (IAM)

    David Kappos, a former USPTO Director who is now lobbying for large corporations that derive revenue from patent extortion, is writing for IAM even if his views are significantly biased by his aggressive paymasters (just like IAM's)



  18. The EPO Protest Tomorrow Isn't Just About Judge Corcoran But About the EPO as a Whole

    PO staff is about to protest against the employer, pointing out that "Battistelli is still showing a total and utter lack of respect not only for his staff and their rights but also for the Administrative Council and for the Tribunal"



  19. Claim: Judge Corcoran to Be Put Under Benoît Battistelli's Control in DG1

    Benoît Battistelli, who openly disregards and refuses to obey judges (while intervening in trials and delivering 'royal decrees' whenever it suits him), may soon gain direct control over the judge he hates most



  20. The European Patent Organisation Refrains (For Nearly a Week) From Speaking About Battistelli's Abuses as Judged by ILO Tribunal

    The EPO's silence on the matter of Patrick Corcoran is deafening; to make matters worse, the EPO continues to pollute media and academia with money of stakeholders, with the sole intention of lobbying and misleading news coverage (clearly a disservice to these stakeholders)



  21. Carl Josefsson Lets Judge Patrick Corcoran Come Back to Work at the EPO

    After initial reluctance to obey/respect the rulings from the ILO (security staff declining access) there is official permission for Patrick Corcoran to enter and resume work (following 3 years of injustice against him)



  22. Bristows is Being Hammered With Negative Comments For Its Unitary Patent (UPC) Lies

    The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is practically dead in the UK and Ireland; Bristows, nevertheless, continues with its desperate spin



  23. Links 11/12/2017: Linux 4.15 RC3, Debian 8.10 and Debian 9.3

    Links for the day



  24. Judge Corcoran Turns to His Government for Help and EPO 'House Ban' is Finally Lifted

    Sources that are very reliable say that Patrick Corcoran is coming back to work, however it's now clear when and how long for



  25. Raw: Battistelli's Control/Domination Over the Boards of Appeal

    An old EPO document internally voicing concerns about the lack of independence at the Boards of Appeal



  26. Raw: Conflicts of Interest of EPO Vice-President

    An old EPO concern regarding structural collisions and mixed loyalties



  27. Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls Are Increasingly Active and Microsoft is Selling 'Protection' (Azure Subscriptions)

    There are several indications that Microsoft-connected shells, which produce no products and are threatening a large number of companies, are inadvertently if not intentionally helping Microsoft sell "indemnification" ("Azure IP Advantage," which echoes the Microsoft/Novell strategy for collecting what they called "patent royalties" one decade ago)



  28. Yes, RPost is Definitely a Patent Troll and Its Software Patents Are at Risk Thanks to Alice

    The latest whitewashing (or reputation-laundering) pieces from Watchtroll, which tries to justify patent-trolling activities with software patents, typically in the Eastern District of Texas



  29. The Latest Scams in the Patent World

    Examples of 'dirty laundry' of the patent microcosm, which it understandably does not like covering (as it harms confidence in their services/advice)



  30. Patents Are Becoming a Welfare System for the Rich and Powerful

    A culture of litigation and more recently the patenting of broad industry standards may mean that multi-billion dollar corporations are cashing in without lifting a finger


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts